Kelly Flanders

From December 4th to December 22nd, 2017, the Thomas Fire cost more than 177 million dollars to fight, and forced the evacuation of more than 104 thousand people and had 8,500 firefighters from 22 states simultaneously working to contain it. But let’s not forget about the public information efforts. Imagine what any large disaster would be like if you kept the affected communities in the dark, giving them zero information. No doubt you’d now have to deal with confusion, panic, anger and so much more. So, we’re going to talk with the person who managed public information for the City of Ventura, Kelly Flanders.

Kelly Flanders is the Communications Manager for the City of Ventura. In addition to the Thomas Fire PIO response, Kelly worked with partner agencies during the Grove Incident oil spill. She is a Ventura native and holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University.

 

LINKS

City of Ventura

City of Ventura Thomas Fire Rebuild

Donate to the United Way of Ventura County Thomas Fire and Flood Fund

Ready Ventura County

Ventura County Emergency Information

Ventura County Recovers

Cal OES Wildfire Recovery Resources

OESNews.com

CalOES.ca.gov

 

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It's been six months since the October 2017 wildfires ravaged Northern Califorina. Through coordination with California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and in close partnership with FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, Cal EPA and CalRecycle, all major work for the removal of fire and ash debris has now been completed in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma and Yuba counties. So far, nearly 1.7 million tons of debris, across all seven counties, have been removed. 

Since the Oct. 10 disaster declaration, nearly 4,500 households have been approved for FEMA individual assistance, for a total of more than $15.7 million. Of this amount, more than $9.6 million has been approved for housing assistance that can assist with home repairs or replacement, rental assistance to be used to find another place to live temporarily while repairs are being made to their home and more than $6.1 million for other needs assistance. Other needs assistance is a grant to pay for other uninsured or underinsured expenses such as disaster-related medical, dental or funeral costs or personal property losses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is another partner agency that plays an integral role in disaster recovery. The SBA provided assistance to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters in the form of low-interest disaster loans. The SBA has approved nearly 1,200 loans for homeowners, renters and businesses for more than $151 million.

We caught up with Assistant Fire Marshall Paul Lowenthal of the Santa Rosa Fire Department to talk with him about the challenges he and his community faced, what he and his deparment have learned and what changes have come into play in the short six months since the fires broke-out.

Links

WildfireRecovery.org

OESNews.com

Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Signs Right of Entry Form, Begins His Own Recovery

SonomaCountyRecovers.org

Cal OES Flickr Images

 

 

 

 

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(SGM Gerald Davis, center, looking at camera)

In recent months, California and our nation has been no stranger to devastating natural and man-made emergencies. So, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) joined the California National Guard’s Homeland Response Force (HRF) and 95th Civil Support Team, along with multiple State/Federal Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces, CAL FIRE, FBI, the Department of Energy, and several other elite emergency response agencies for a full-scale terrorism response exercise at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena.

“In just the last year we’ve seen our highly trained emergency response and recovery teams deployed across the nation to lead critical lifesaving missions,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “This exercise will test those critical rescue and response skills, as well as enhance our ability to respond to real world events that could happen anywhere in California, our nation or in other parts of the world."

The training scenario involved a series of simultaneous terrorist attacks across Northern California following a 6.5-magnitude earthquake. The attacks include simulated improvised explosive devices (IED), the detonation of a simulated radiation-dispersal device (RDD) and firearms. Sleep Train Arena will serve as the training site for IED and RDD response, while Sonoma Raceway served as the site for active shooter response training. Hundreds of emergency-response personnel, vehicles, and aircraft participated.

“It’s only through regular, realistic training alongside our partner agencies that we keep our skills sharp and response times low,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard. “These exercises establish the relationships and interagency coordination that is fundamental to an effective response during emergency incidents.”

In this episode we pull SGM Gerald Davis, of the California National Guard, to talk about organizing such a large and complex training exercise and why they're so important, and so important to make as real as possible.

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The term active shooter has been in the news a lot lately, unfortunately.  Whether it’s Parkland, Florida, Marshall County, Kentucky, or Yountville, California, armed attacks often leave a trail of dead and injured and shock the communities in which they happen. It’s the kind of tragedy for which law enforcement trains yet can’t always prevent.

In this episode, Cal OES Law Enforcement Chief Mark Pazin, talks about how the agency has increased and improved its active shooter program, the training and some of the more recent challenges state and local law enforcement have faced in order to protect the public from potential attacks. He also expresses his firmly held belief of what it will take to reduce the number of active shooter (or active aggressor, as it’s more often called since not all attackers use firearms) incidents.

Mark Pazin, of Merced, was appointed chief of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Law Enforcement Branch in December, 2013. Pazin has been sheriff-coroner for Merced County since 2002, where he has served in multiple positions at the Sheriff’s Department since 1981, including area commander and assistant sheriff. Pazin has served on the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission since 2011 and is a past president on the California State Sheriffs’ Association President’s Counsel. He earned a Master of Science degree in national security from the American Military University.

Links

Cal OES Law Branch

Cal OES ACTIVE SHOOTER AWARENESS GUIDANCE

CAL STATE SHERIFF’S ASSOCIATION

CAL CHIEFS

CAL PEACE OFFICERS’ ASSOCIATION

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Deputy Chief Larry Collins is the Cal OES Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Chief of the Special Operations and Hazardous Material Unit, having joined Cal OES in November, 2016. He oversees the State Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Response Program which includes response, training, terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destructions related operations, flood and swiftwater rescue operations, and hazardous material unit.

Chief Collins joined Cal OES Fire and Rescue Division after serving 36 years in all ranks at the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD). He served up to the Battalion Chief position, with many years assigned to some of the busiest fire/rescue companies and battalions, and has 30 years of experience as a paramedic. He was assigned to three active LACoFD battalions and he spent 19 years as a Captain at the department’s Central Urban Search and Rescue Unit, responding by ground unit or helicopter to a wide variety of challenging technical rescues, multi-alarm fires, and major emergencies across Los Angeles County and surrounding counties. He was a Search Team Manager and Task Force Leader on LACoFD’s California OES/FEMA USAR Task Force (CA-TF2), deploying to disasters including the 2015 Nepal Earthquake disaster; the 2011 Japan Earthquake/Tsunami catastrophe; the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Chief Collins has been an active member of the FEMA US&R Incident Support Teams (IST), having served since 1995 as a US&R Specialist, Division/Group Supervisor, Branch Director, and Operations Section Chief to help coordinate federal urban search and rescue operations at Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, Ivan, Ike, Rita, Frances, Gustav, Irene, Dennis, Wilma, Dolly, Earl, and most recently Mathew. As an IST member, he also responded to the 9/11 Attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and various national security events and exercises. 

Chief Collins left LACoFD with a record of innovative leadership and actualizing informed visions for the future of the fire/rescue services. During his employment with LACoFD, Chief Collins demonstrated his ability to initiate, institute, and successfully manage unique improvements and enhancements to public safety. This included many years of invaluable inter-agency and multidisciplinary experiences, collaborations, and innovations that continue to have local, state, national, and international impact. Chief Collins’ diverse list also includes: founding of LACoFD’s Swiftwater Rescue Program and the continued development of LACoFD’s US&R Program, working with Cal OES and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on development of the state and national US&R systems, also working with Cal OES on developing the statewide swiftwater rescue team network, mud and debris flow response protocols and rescue procedures, fireground rapid intervention protocols, active shooter response procedures, aquatic helicopter swiftwater workshop rescue evolutions, terrorism planning and response, new approaches to diverse challenges like trench and excavation collapse rescue, large animal rescue, confined space/deep shaft rescue, and the use of technology to improve search and rescue. His experiences even included new designs for firefighter turnouts/bunker gear to improve the speed by which downed firefighters can be rescued.

Chief Collins frequently served as a bridge between emergency response and the sciences, industry, and government agencies helping to innovate multidisciplinary programs like the California Shakeout Earthquake Exercise; the California Catastrophic Earthquake Plan; the L.A. County Tsunami Plan, and the Post-Station Fire Mud and Debris Flow Response Plans. Chief Collins has been able to communicate and articulate the visions, innovations, and lessons learned to fire/rescue service operators and the public by authoring reports, published articles, and books. Ironically, author Dete Messerve based a main character in her novels “Good Sam” and “Perfectly Good Crime” on Chief Collins and his work.

Chief Collins is also a recipient of the Carnegie Hero Fund Award (1983), and the L.A. County Community Protector Award. He was named as firefighter of the year in several of LACoFD’s contract cities, and he received the Lifetime Achievement and team awards from the Higgins/Langley Memorial Fund for Swiftwater Rescue.

Links

Cal OES Fire & Rescue

Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces

Sky News Report on the Rescue of Jeanette: Woman rescued after six days Haiti survivor

BUCK HELM — Man Who Lived 90 Hours In Quake Rubble Is Dead

Loma Prieta earthquake: Mercury News coverage, the Buck Helm rescue

4 things EMS providers must know about crush syndrome

 

 

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The inferno unleashed on Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties, as well as several other northern California counties, left behind the kind of devastation many have only read about in the history books. Thousands of structures and homes were destroyed, entire neighborhoods left in ruins, and of course the 44 lives lost. There is one neighborhood that symbolizes the destruction and a community’s resilience to bounce back — Coffey Park in Santa Rosa.

In this episode, we hear from four leaders who were instrumental in managing the efforts to find temporary homes for the thousands displaced, removing the massive amounts of rubble and debris, and cleaning the land to modern environmental standards so residents can rebuild. They are:

Cal OES Directory Mark Ghilarducci,

FEMA Region IX Administrator Bob Fenton,

US Army Corps of Engineers Field Office Commander in Sonoma County Col. Eric McFadden, and

FEMA National Qualifications System Director and  Federal Lead for the Housing Task Force Ryan Buras.

We spoke with them on-location to get them reflect shortly after the day debris removal program in Coffey Park concluded. The also talk about the fire and resulting flood and mudslides in Santa Barbara. Here they are, in their own words. 

Links

http://wildfirerecovery.org/

http://caloes.ca.gov/

https://www.ready.gov/

 

 

 

 

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We sit down with Amber Anderson, an 18 year veteran firefighter, and 10 year veteran of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department. She’s a member of the Santa Barbara County Type-3 Incident Management Team, a fire inspector and investigator and public information officer. In this episode Amber talks about the fire community always learns from previous disasters; this time it’s the Thomas Fire and the ensuing flood and mudslide which devastated her county and the community of Montecito. She also reflects on how  Santa Barbara stood-up their incident management team just prior to the floods and just how important that decision was given the damage and deaths that resulted from the floods. And how in the world was she able to keep a smile on her face amid the long hours, demands and stress put on her during her activation and deployment to the disaster in her home town? She’ll answer that question and more in this episode. Oh, and never mind the noise. It’s a disaster recovery operation.

Links

City of Santa Barbara Fire Department

Santa Barbara County

Cal OES Newsroom

Cal OES Home Page

Montecito Mudslide US&R Update Video

 

 

 

 

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Shawn Boyd & Rick Lopes

 

With tens of thousands of homes that need rebuilding after the fire sieges in both northern California and southern California, survivors will need reputable, licensed contractors. And contractors will be looking for work; there’s plenty of that to go around.  So, both homeowners and contractors will need reliable information and the warnings that go along with it; and agencies need info too.  Whether it’s a community hit by wildfires, or one that’s been devastated by severe weather or man-made catastrophes, new ways of targeted communication pop-up all the time; now it’s time for you to connect. And if you’re a contractor and you’re not licensed to do business in California you could face a citation for any work you solicit. The fact that there is an emergency declaration will enhance a misdemeanor which could send you to prison.

In this episode, we talk with Rick Lopes, chief of public affairs for the Contractors State License Board in California. This is chat that will benefit state and local agencies, contractors as well anyone looking to hire a contractor, especially after the wildfires of October and December of 2017.

 

CSLB Sign

Links

Contractors State License Board

Cal OES Wildfire Statewide Recovery Resources

 

 

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Being a dispatcher is stressful enough, but imagine being one when your entire county must evacuate? In this episode, Cal OES Public Information Officers Robb Mayberry and Monica Vargas chat with two dispatchers from the Butte County Sheriff’s Office about what it was like when evacuations were ordered for Butte, Sutter, and Yuba Counties this last February.

Dispatchers Jenifer Honea and Trina Valeigh speak openly about their experience and what was going through their minds during the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident. Hear how first responders and this community came together and maintained operations during a stressful time. They will share how they managed to answer the incoming calls while at the same time having to relocate an entire dispatch center, which laid in the path of possible flood waters. Get tips on how to be better prepared in case you ever have to leave your home because of the threat of an imminent disaster. Find out the one thing you should do when you move into a new community. This episode offers valuable information for those thinking about starting a career as a dispatcher and is eye-opening for even the most seasoned dispatchers.

Links 

Oroville Spillway Incident Resource Page

Oroville Spillway Incident

Oroville Spillway Incident in Pictures

Photos

  1. Kimber the Butte County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Dog
  2. From Right to Left Butte County Sheriff’s Office Dispatchers Jennifer Honea, Trina Valeigh, Cal OES PIOs Monica Vargas and Robb Mayberry
  3. Oroville Dam

 

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Captain Pace Stokes, Alameda County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, sat down with Shawn Boyd at the Alameda County Emergency Operations Center in Dublin, California. Their recording session took place on day-1 of Urban Shield. For this year’s exercise Capt. Stokes was the deputy incident commander, where he said this was the first year that CERT was actively involved in the exercise and that there was a competitive element to their training. Capt. Stokes also talks about what helps him manage a large-scale training exercise like Urban Shield (there were 63 sites across five counties involved,) and about the ghost ship warehouse fire that killed 36 people on December 2, 2016 in Oakland.

Links

Alameda County Sheriff

Alameda County OES

Urban Shield

Cal OES Video Blog on Urban Shield and CERT

 

 

 

 

 

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